Tuesday, May 12, 2015

REVIEW: 'The Flash' - Barry Has Several Superhuman Team Ups to Battle the Reverse Flash in 'Rogue Air'

The CW's The Flash - Episode 1.22 "Rogue Air"

As Wells once again gets the upper hand on the STAR Labs team, Barry realizes he needs to make a big move and reaches out to an old foe, Captain Cold, for help. Joe and Caitlin warn Barry that Cold can't be trusted. True to form, Cold has his own agenda that involves the meta-humans trapped in the containment cells. As things seem to be going from bad to worse, The Flash gets reinforcements - Arrow and Firestorm.

"Rogue Air" is overstuffed with events. All of it felt necessary. Barry having one last memorable confrontation with Leonard Snart. Barry and the team dealing with the morality of keeping the various meta-humans locked up in the particle accelerator. And lastly, Barry's epic confrontation with Eobard with some assistance from Arrow and Firestorm. And yet, it is all just crammed into this one episode. The momentum and pacing is weird. All of these various pieces don't connect on a strong emotional level throughout the episode as well as they should.

Eobard has entered his endgame for the season. Barry and the team know his true identity as the Reverse Flash and the man who killed Barry's mother. He desperately wants to return to his home time. He makes those final preparations to get the particle accelerator ready to be turned on again with enough power to make his mission successful. And yet, this episode really isn't about the Reverse Flash. He is an evil that looms large over the hour. But not enough substance revolving around that confrontation and endgame actually occurs throughout the episode. And then, the episode ends with a fantastic action sequence with Flash, Arrow and Firestorm all battling the Reverse Flash. It's a thrilling sequence that does end with a profound and interesting resolution - Barry and the team being successful and taking Eobard prisoner. However, it just feels oddly placed to have that final confrontation occur at the end of this particular episode. Obviously, the show wanted it to occur outside of the finale so that that story could revolve around Barry's trip back in time to save his mother. But it's still out-of-place to have it in an hour that's largely about Barry being naive and trusting the bad guys who aren't Eobard for a mission that has almost nothing to do with Eobard at all.

Plus, it's incredibly bothersome in delving into the logistics of how Oliver Queen is able to make this appearance in the first place considering the predicament he is currently in over on Arrow. Did Oliver [SPOILER] just leave Nanda Parbat where all of his friends are clinging to life and he's being asked to wipe out his entire home city just to come help Barry battle Eobard? [END OF SPOILER] Yes, that's more of an Arrow problem than a Flash one. But it's still wonky because the two shows need to honor their shared universe in a way that can be consistent on both shows. Again, it's a thrilling final sequence that is exciting to watch on both a special effects and choreography level. It's just that "Rogue Air" didn't earn that moment from its own merits.

Instead Barry spends most of the episode worrying about the five meta-humans currently being held at STAR Labs and what would happen to them if Eobard turned the particle accelerator on again. The incident gave them their powers. And yet, this one would kill them immediately. Barry just can't let them die. It's been a major problem all season long in terms of just how right Barry and the team are in holding these people in these small containers. They are acting as judge and jury. They came up with this solution early in the season and haven't given much thought to it since. It's not right but it is the only option they have. Until, of course, Barry mentions Oliver's secret prison on Lian Yu and how it could be used to hold the meta-humans. That solution came about rather quickly. How was this the first time Barry has thought about that?

Of course, that won't make much of a difference because all of those meta-humans have escaped because Barry thought it was a good idea to trust Leonard Snart in securing their transfer. Every single person pointed out that it was a bad idea. And guess what? Things went bad rather quickly. Sure, it was an excuse to stage yet another elaborate and fun action sequence. But that scene was also confusing because the audience's attention was directed to too many different places at the same time. It took me a few moments to remember what each of these bad guys' powers actually were. And in the end, it was just to make Barry seem like a fool - which seems like a bad direction to take the main character in for the penultimate episode of the season.

It's a story that happens because the show wants Leonard Snart to return one last time for the season. And yet, the show probably would have been better letting Barry's last encounter with Snart as their final one - with both of them agreeing to go after each other and not innocent people. It's an act of desperation on Barry's part that he reaches out to Snart. He's unable to get the justice system to help and Oliver and Ronnie won't return his calls. How and why then are Oliver and Ronnie there in the end though? When did they realize just how much danger Barry was in and cleared their schedules to help out? It's logistics that don't really work out the more you think about them. It's still fun but "Rogue Air" doesn't also know how to build up to its climatic final moment.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Rogue Air" was written by Aaron Helbing & Todd Helbing and directed by Doug Aarniokoski.
  • Cisco's reluctant flirting with Lisa Snart is wonderful and makes her whole return appearance worth it. Plus, he also gives her her comic book codename, Golden Glider.
  • Eddie is also rescued - because Eobard was holding him in the one place Barry would never think to look, STAR Labs. He then promptly breaks up with Iris because of the newspaper Eobard showed him. Iris is right in her argument that she is her own person who makes her own decisions. But Eddie is also right in saying that Barry has always been a part of their relationship.
  • Leonard Snart refers to the meta-humans who he breaks out of their prisons as his Rogues. Also, they all now owe him a favor.
  • STAR Labs really needs a better lock on their front door. Literally anyone can just walk right in at the perfect time for them to make a big and shocking entrance.